Book Launch - African Social Movement Learning: The Case of the Ada Songor Salt Movement

Listen to a recording of the book launch event

The book launch of African Social Movement Learning: The Case of the Ada Songor Salt Movement, written by Dr. Jonathan Langdon took place virtually on February 17th at 10:15 am. (use the player above to listen to a recording of the event).

Although published last February, previous plans to launch the book then were cancelled due to the unprecedented outbreak of the COVID-19. The hope was that we could eventually launch this book at in-person events, held simultaneously in Ghana and Canada. Unfortunately, with the continued impact of the virus on our different communities, we finally decided to launch the book virtually. This launch will also mark the renewal of the Canada Research Chair in Sustainability and Social Change Leadership that Dr. Langdon holds.

Dr. Langdon’s book, based on 9 years of research, is an important contribution to critical adult education and in particular, on "how social movements learn in struggle, produce knowledge, and provoke public paradigm shifts". It speaks to African social movements, and their learning, focusing on the Ada Songor salt movement in Ghana. Find the link for the book on the publisher’s website here: https://brill.com/view/title/56823

African Social Movement Learning is part of the International Issues in Adult Education series, edited by Peter Mayo. Find out more about the series here https://brill.com/view/serial/ADUL

Kofi Larweh, Dr. Robin Neusteater, and Dr. Ronald Charles will share their perspectives on the book (see below for information about them, as well as Dr. Langdon); a collection of thoughts from Research Assistants involved in this work over the years will also be shared.

Proceeds from any books sold at the launch will go to support the Welfare Fund of the Yihi Katsɛmɛ

African Social Movement Learning: The Case of the Ada Songor Salt Movement, written by Dr. Jonathan Langdon, is based on over 9 years of research documentation, and a decade and a half of work with Ada citizens fighting to reclaim communal access to Ghana’s largest salt yielding lagoon, the Songor, in order to pursue a 400 year old tradition of artisanal salt winning. Through ongoing participatory research, Langdon has documented how these citizens have organized themselves into a social movement, how this movement has changed over time, and how it has contended with those wishing to control it from both within and outside the Ada people – including efforts by different governments to turn the lagoon into a private monopoly concession. An important ally to the movement in recent times has been Ada’s community radio station, Radio Ada, helping to create spaces of dialogue around Songor issues, and ensuring people throughout Ada remained informed of what was happening to the resource. Langdon, working with both Radio Ada, movement members as well as students, has published a number of articles and book chapters on the Songor story.

One of the co-authors he published with, Kofi Larweh of Radio Ada, will speak at the launch of African Social Movement Learning. Research collaboration has been at the centre of the participatory research study led by Langdon, and resulted, amongst other things, in a collectively written book published locally in Ghana (Comboni Press, 2016) called the The Struggle of the Songor Salt People, as well as a play performed in Ada and Accra in 2017 called, Songor is life, Atsiakpo is death. Creativity has been at the core of much of the movement’s activism over the past few years, with the use of song, radio dramas, as well as a tapestry depicting the history of the Songor from the movement perspective, being used to effectively communicate with the Ada and broader Ghanaian public, with traditional leaders, local and national political and bureaucratic decision makers, and with international allies. Much of this creativity was led by women salt winners, who have emerged as the leaders of the movement over the last 4 years. Langdon, in this most recent book, has tried to document the emergence of this leadership, their creativity, as well as the depth of learning and knowledge generation and its dissemination that he has witnessed over the years he has worked with the movement. The story of this learning, especially, is compared with learning from other social movement contexts across the African continent, arguing for the importance of African social movements being understood on their own terms. This includes looking at social movement learning through a deeply contextual lens that sees movements like the Ada Songor salt movement as unique contributors to knowledge about their world, their resources, and the ways in which it should be managed.

Given the recent re-emergence of conflict and tension surrounding the Songor, this book, and Langdon’s work in general, can provide important insight into the history of these tensions, as well as the contrasting vision of the future of the lagoon the movement sees, with an ecologically sound communal resource use, as compared to the direction it is going now, with a single company owning the entire resource. It is hoped this book can contribute to a path forward that foregrounds the vision and knowledge of local Adas, especially women salt winners - those most vulnerable to changing relations in the lagoon.

Information about Author

Jonathan Langdon is an Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in Sustainability and Social Change Leadership at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. He has been working with social movements in Ghana for the last 19 years, and more specifically with a movement in Ada defending communal access to a salt yielding lagoon since 2008. His recent work connects with other resource contention hot spots in Ghana, as well as with Indigenous Mayan educators/activists in Guatemala. He also works closely with climate justice movements and Mi’kmaq First Nation Water Protectors in Nova Scotia.
https://www.facebook.com/CRCinSustainabilityandSocialChangeLeadership/
http://stfx.academia.edu/JonathanLangdon

Langdon’s most recent publications include:

Langdon, J. (2020). African Social Movement Learning: Case of Ada Salt Movement in Ghana. Leiden: Brill Sense Publisher. https://brill.com/view/title/56823

Langdon, J., Jackson, M. & Kitcher, S. (2020). Pedagogy of Song and Restor(y)ing Hope: stories and songs as social movement learning in Ada Songor salt movement. In F. Finnegan & B. Grummell Doing Creative and Critical Research in Adult Education. Leiden: Brill Sense Publisher. https://brill.com/view/title/56609

Langdon, J., Larweh, K. & Quarmyne, W. (2020). "E yeo ngo" (Does s/he eat salt?): Learning in Movement from a 5 year PAR study of the Ada Songor Advocacy Forum, A Social Movement in Ghana. Interface, 12(2), 70-86. https://www.interfacejournal.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Interface-12-2-Langdon-Larweh-Quarmyne.pdf

Langdon, J. (2019). An Unfractured line: an academic tale of self-reflective social movement learning in the Nova Scotia anti-fracking movement. In E. Scandrett & A. Harley (Eds.) Environmental Justice, Popular Struggle and Community Development. London: Policy Press. https://policy.bristoluniversitypress.co.uk/environmental-justice-popular-struggle-and-community-development

Discussant Info

Kofi Larweh is the former station manager for Radio Ada, Ghana and lead trainer for the Ghana Community Radio Network. He has been an active member of the Songor movement for 3 decades and passionate about working with the marginalized. He has co-published articles in Interface: A Journal for and About Social Movements as well as Action Research. Most recently, he played a leading role in the production of the collectively written book, The Struggle of the Songor Salt People (Comboni, Ghana).

Dr. Robin Neustaeter is an Assistant Professor in Adult Education at St. Francis Xavier University and Program Teaching Staff at the Coady International Institute. Her teaching and research are in the areas of adult and community learning and peacebuilding, in particular women’s learning and peace leadership.

Dr. Ronal Charles is an Associate Professor in Religious Studies at St. Francis Xavier University. His research interests include Interdisciplinary study of Christian literature (canonical and extra-canonical), Pauline literature, Second Temple Jewish History and literature, Postcolonial and Diaspora Studies, Method and Theory in the academic study of Religion. Recent publications include: The Silencing of Slaves in early Jewish and Christian Writings. London and New York: Routledge, 2019; Paul and the Politics of Diaspora. Minneapolis: Fortess Press, 2014.

 

"That's the way our people write. They put things in song for history" (Kofi Larweh, 2016)

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Translocal Learning

is an approach to solving complex global challenges, such as climate change or poverty. It is when groups at the local level learn from each other and share their knowledge with other like-minded groups.  Translocal learning can lead to change on a larger scale by allowing locally acting groups to maintain their unique culture and structure while nurturing global connections.

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Dr. Jonathan Langdon, Canada Research Chair in Sustainability and Social Change Leadership

is looking at how translocal learning spaces are effecting change. Translocal learning spaces contribute to sharing knowledge and building momentum for change. They can also offer local groups a way to connect with other movements facing similar challenges.

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Around the world, in cities and rural areas

people are working together to tackle the sustainability challenges that confront them. Yet their movements often seem isolated - especially when viewed in the context of the bigger threat of global climate change. As a dynamic and horizontal learning style, translocal learning contrasts starkly with the current lack of progress in climate change leadership at the global, multilateral level.

 
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About This Project
This project is made possible in part thanks to the kind support of Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

This project is made possible in part thanks to the kind support of The Canada Foundation for Innovation.
This project is made possible in part thanks to the kind support of The Canada Research Chairs Program.